as she took his parents.
She chuckled, conspiratorially,
as she introduced him
to his bride.
She sang softly,
to lull his children to sleep.
She raged, with jealousy,
and made him, all hers again.
Her every twist, reflected,
in the lines on his face.
Every shifting sandbank,
a vein on his gnarled hands.
The river. His mistress.
Written, for the photograph. Because of the photograph.
Shot by Sujith. See more of his stuff here.
A mind that's constantly wandering.
Feeling boxed-in, even with the windows open.
4 a.m. and half-remembered-half-imagined scents
carried on the breeze, whisper tales of past adventures,
as I stand out in the balcony, with a cigarette for company.
Paring down the stuff in my backpack.
Sub-consciously taking the longer way, everywhere.
Looking at rough stretches of road,
with inexplicable fondness.
Reading the little words that roadrash
has inscribed upon my battered hide.
'Ole Hoss', the beast that carries my burden,
It's been a year since we hit the road.
And that one didn't end too well.
Hoss is going into the shop this evening.
Some oil here, a tweak there.
The weekend draws closer.
Time to go riding again.
Way past time.
So inexorably intrusive has the process become, that even my calloused consciousness has been goaded into awareness. Which has naturally resulted in a question.
Is the appointment of an individual to the most pointless political office in the country, really worth so much front page real estate?
And what individuals.
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who has the dubious distinction of having been a "proper" politician.
Pratibha Patil, who has the dubious distinction of having performed an equally pointless function, at the State level.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who has the dubious distinction of already having performed effectively as head PR man for the masses.
Of Shekhawat, nothing more need be said, other than that he was Vice President. (A post who's importance is well understood throughout the corporate world, the political world and even that funny little world inhabited by cultists.)
It seems hardly credible that the nomination (and possible appointment) of Madame Patil, to this pedantic, powerless post, can be considered a great step for womens' rights.
Kalam has discharged his duties with photogenic panache, enduring elan and a trademark flowing, silver mane. However, while he has gained tremendous popularity by sending bills he doesn't agree with, back to the House, they have eventually been passed. (Obviously he didn't feel strongly enough about them, to give up the presidential perks, in protest.)
I don't see how the decision as to which of these people will enjoy a rent free mansion, landscaped gardens, etc., will really make such a difference to the state of the nation. Instead, I propose that our superlative scribes and cereberal columnists devote their time to matters of real import.
Such as speculating when Guinness draught, will be available in India.
Apparently, users who do not apply the recommended 10 step patch [derived from the 10 Commandments coded for V1.0] to their mobile environment suffer not only the risk of a fatal system crash, but also ETERNAL DAMNATION.
I'd write about it, except for the simple fact that I couldn't do it with anything remotely like the erudition or stilleto-like sarcasm of George Monbiot, in this piece, originally published in The Guardian.
You couldn't see much of the stranger's face, the day he rode into town.
Small dust devils rose up with every step his horse took. And chased themselves into oblivion, before the next hoof landed. The creaking of his saddle, seemed like the only sound for miles around.
You couldn't see much of his face. But you could tell he didn't seem to think too highly of the town.
Truth to tell, Rickman's Ford wasn't much of a town. But then it didn't have much of a creek to ford either.
It was just a handful of ramshackle houses; a large, rambling saloon built by a man who used to be an optimist; a livery fit only for the crowbait it housed; trading post; and the usual leavenings of defunct commercial enterprises found in most any defunct town west of the Big Muddy.Every structure, a conglomeration of wood and rusty nails, seemed held together only by an agglomeration of dust. The buildings had long since been browbeaten into submission by the merciless sun, stripped of the last vestiges of painted pride by the hot winds and casually raped by the occassional passing tornado.
Main St., was a shameful misnomer. There were alleys back East, that had it beat hands-down for grandiosity. Cowboys from the outlying ranches rode 20 miles through Apache territory, to Bentworth, when they were looking for a night on the town. (Because even the West's famous hookers-with-hearts-of-gold, had real stomachs to fill.)
The barbershop, had just one chair. And most times, a body hankering after a shave and cut had to shake Toomes - the barber - out of it first.
Hell. Even the bandidos didn't raid around Rickman's Ford. Nobody here had anything worth stealing. All in all, a miserable, sorry excuse for a town. Where nothing ever happened. Until today. The day the stranger picked, to ride into town.
The denizens of Rickman's Ford were about to be treated to a social event. The social event.
Old Man Rickworth's daughter, Shannon, was getting hitched.
The girl was the only redeeming factor in the whole damn town. A figure that could make a buck Apache swear off killing the white man. (At least until he'd got his way with Shannon.) A permanent blush on her cheeks, like the first bloom after a desert storm. Long, golden tresses, that any self-respecting bedbug would pay New York hotel rates for.
And she was marrying young Tom Pickett. Heir to the uncounted acres of the Tumbling 'P'. He'd swung a wide loop around the country. But since heifers and lambs just weren't cutting it for him anymore, he settled for Shannon.
The saloon had stopped serving liquor for the duration of the ceremony. The circuit preacher had been shanghaied away from his usual beat, by the promise of an open bar. And everyone was in their Sunday go-to-meetin' best, for all the good that did them.
The stranger's horse found its way, seemingly unguided, to the scrawny limb that served as a hitching post outside the saloon. With a muffled grunt, the stranger slid off.
Inside, the service commenced.
The stranger patted his horse. And then his pockets, looking for the makings.
The preacher's parched voice, was scurrying on through the words, leaping eagerly towards that promised land of rye.
With one effortless, almost languid move, the stranger flipped his pistol out of the holster, it's well-worn grips coming to rest with easy familiarity in his hand. Just like it had, a million times before.
Smith & Wesson had always made a good lookin', straight shootin' gun and the .44 Russian, was no exception. He flipped open the chamber, spun it to check the action and deftly flipped it shut again. The gun, was slipped back into its holster. For now.
The stranger, headed into the saloon.
Inside, the preacher had got to the part where audience participation, while hardly expected, had to be paid its dues. With a pause, and a longing look at the bar, he squawked on:
"And if any man here knows why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace."
The stranger's broad shoulders sent the batwing doors flying open with a resounding crash. Voice tight with tension, he said "Ah reckon ah've got me somethin' tuh say about this here shindig."
Tom Pickett was getting married. He'd bought a new hat. A new suit. And new boots. But he kept his old reliable Colt .44 Pecemaker. And marriage or no, like any man who grew up in those parts and those times, he kept it on during the ceremony.
The stranger glared at Tom.
Tom, said "Draw."
The stranger's hand swept down.
The millionth time, plus one.
The stranger's gun, slipping from his grasp, skittered along the dusty floor.
When they buried him, he was still looking surprised.
As young Tom Pickett, and his newly acquired better half, rode past Boot Hill, he stopped the buggy. Mumbling an excuse to the starry eyed Shannon, he walked over, had a word with the undertaker, and then carried on with his missus to the Tumbling 'P.'
The undertaker scratched his head, but then figured if anyone had the right, Tom did. He got to work with an old branding iron, and a couple of slats of wood. Puzzled or not, he did a mighty fine job.
To this day, the marker up on Boot Hill reads:
Died August 7, 1869.
"He couldn't hold his piece."
"...if they pull a gun, you pull a knife."
"Yes. Now, if they pull a knife, you use a chain."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Yes. And, if they pull a chain, you grab a lathi."
"I'm a little confused."
"Just listen. If they bring lathis, you use your fists."
"But Dad, what if they're unarmed too?"
"Hmmm... Then wheel out the handicapped."
"The handicapped? But... But... in a fight?"
We've got to show everyone we're more backward than they are.
[A tribute to Sir Sean Connery, in The Untouchables; recent events in Rajasthan; and Nehruvian socialism.]